Most Memorable Dinners

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Throughout over two years of traveling to over thirty different countries, I’ve had some of the most incredible meals of my life. Some have been formal ceremonies with waiters and starched linens, while others have taken place in an alley on a child-sized plastic chair. It would be almost difficult to mention them all, but here are some of the most memorable dinners that spring to mind when I look back.

The most incredible birthday dinner:

My birthday dinner at Country House Peace in KrkaNational Park in Drinovci, Croatia was an unplanned event, yet it is the meal that comes to me first when I think of the finest meals.

We had intended to stay in another region of the national park since this one is a little farther from town. My buddy who had booked it kept apologizing, believing he had ruined my birthday.

When we arrived, the family couldn’t have been kinder or more helpful, even taking us around the national park to show us spots we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. As it came time for supper, the family recommended a meal prepared under the bell since it was my birthday.

I wasn’t sure what it meant, but they looked thrilled about it, so we agreed. The mother leapt up and hurried to the garden to begin collecting veggies. That’s how fresh this supper was going to be- the veggies were gathered just before I was about to prepare them.

As supper was being made, we were brought wine from their cellar, olives, and a little loaf of freshly baked bread. We quickly discovered that the lunch will be served in a traditional Balkan style beneath a cast iron dome called apeka, which both cooks and roasts the meats and vegetables.

We observed as the mother built a fire in which to set the whole peka and then cover it for the duration of the cooking procedure. Various sorts of meats and vegetables were put to the pan, along with a little oil, and then the whole dish was placed over the heat.

I was ecstatic by the time supper was ready to be served (after more than an hour and numerous glasses of wine). Our host gently took the heavy dish from the heat and lifted the top, revealing wonderfully cooked lamb, poultry, and fork delicate veggies.

This pan may seem to be enough to serve a big family, but the two of us finished it ourselves that night, soaking up the sauce with crusty handmade bread and drinking it all down with more wine.

Exploring Rustic and Blue:

My first visit to Rustic & Blue in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was the beginning of my relationship with the restaurant.

The restaurant uses a farm-to-table philosophy, and although the menu is short, everything on it is done really well.

Due of our enthusiasm, my buddy and I decided we wanted two appetizers and an entree each. We began with duck prosciutto and goat cheese with a balsamic glaze on toast, handmade burrata with toasted bread, then sriracha fried chicken over mashed potatoes for my main course.

Following this first dinner, it’s been a running joke how often I wind myself returning to sample the remainder of the menu. Tacos were one of my favorite discoveries from a subsequent visit, since it may be tough to locate decent Mexican cuisine in Southeast Asia. The restaurant has just launched a supper menu, so I’ll be spending even more time there in the near future.

The finest sandwich I’ve ever had:

When I landed in Porto, Portugal, I dropped my stuff in the room and asked the receptionist for a restaurant suggestion. I asked her for a personal suggestion, someplace locals ate rather than a tourist eatery, somewhere she herself liked.

She sent me in the direction of Casa Guedes, her favorite sandwich restaurant. I was originally apprehensive since I wasn’t sure whether a sandwich was the local experience I was searching for, but I decided to go with her recommendation.

I knew she had taken my suggestion to heart when I arrived and joined the queue out the door and discovered I was the sole foreigner waiting.

When I finally got to the counter, I discovered the most basic, wonderful sandwich I’d ever eaten. The baked bread was crispy on the exterior and chewy in the middle, the roasted pig was tender, juicy, and salty, and the local cheese was acidic and complemented the meat well.

I ate this sandwich fast and drank it down with an icy cold local lager. Days later, I returned to this same restaurant for a second serving of same dinner. I knew I couldn’t leave town after having just eaten this once. When I approached the end of the line, I saw the receptionist who had referred me to my new favorite sandwich shop standing in line for her own dinner.

Turkish Food:

When I decided to visit Turkey, I was instantly enthused about seeing the Hagia Sophia, traveling the Bosphorus, and taking my first Turkish bath.

I had no clue Turkish cuisine was so delicious- the meal alone is worth getting thrilled about! I’ve had Turkish food at home, but from a much smaller menu—the regular kebabs and basic dishes.

Turkish cuisine is diverse and varies greatly depending on where you are in the nation. Soups, breads, Turkish pizzas, grilled meats, and shellfish were all amazing and surprising.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in other Asian nations, so I’m accustomed to a tea culture, but I’ve never seen as much tea consumed as I did in Turkey. The Turks appear to be obsessed with tea! Men selling tea sprint between booths in packed marketplaces, while store owners seem to be continuously sipping or ordering tea. When you enter into a store, you virtually always get a little tulip-shaped cup of hot tea.

Although I can’t claim it as one of my new favorite beverages, a buddy raved about theayran, a salty yogurt drink available from street sellers.

Finding a new favorite wine:

When people speak about European wines, they nearly invariably refer to either French or Spanish wines. I had no clue that Hungary made such great (and reasonably priced) wines, particularly ross.

I had always dismissed this sort of wine as girlie or excessively sweet because to its pinkish tint, until one night when I was eating a dessert of fresh cherries and the server advised a ros to match with the fruit.

No thanks, I said, I don’t like ross, but I’ll take a glass of dry white wine.

You give it a shot. She informed me that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay. She obviously understood how I function since it is an offer I will never reject.

I realized I’d made a mistake at the first taste. The wine was cool, sharp, dry, fruity, and not quite as sweet as I had (misguidedly) imagined. I got sucked in. I spent the remainder of the summer looking for ross, mainly Hungarian brands. Months later, I was probably more delighted than I should have been when I discovered they served a Hungarian ros at a rooftop bar with a fantastic view of the city.

Chiang Mai’s finest burger:

While Thailand has a lot of very delicious and economical native and street cuisine, sometimes you simply want a burger. A large, greasy, unhealthy, yet tasty burger.

I was having one of those days when we went to Rock Me Burger in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the old town. As if buying a burger wasn’t a splurge enough, I swiftly settled on what had to be their most unhealthy product on the menu- the macaroni and cheese bacon burger.

I hurriedly perused the remainder of the menu, attempting to persuade myself to try something healthier—a chicken burger or even a vegetable burger—but my gaze kept returning to my original choice. I wish I could say I was sorry, but every mouthful was worth it.

The burger was so stacked high with bacon and delicious spaghetti that I had to shatter it to eat it. The fries and onion rings that came with the sandwich were crunchy, salty, and delicious. This is a location I won’t be returning to since I can’t see me getting anything other than this dish on future trips. It’s difficult to eat a black bean burger after this.

Feast on the Farm:

Finally, we have another supper from Rustic & Blue. I debated whether I should mention the same restaurant twice in one piece, but if anything, this should demonstrate how delicious their cuisine is.

I recently visited their Farm Feast, a dinner served 45 minutes outside of town on the same farm where most of their organic fruit is grown.

The whole evening was nothing short of wonderful. Two big banquet tables were arranged with place cards, there was soothing music playing in the background, free flowing wine and craft beer, and a bunch of eager people. The agricultural backdrop, complete with a chandelier suspended from a canopy tent over the banquet tables and precisely mismatched chairs, set the tone for the evening.

The five-course meal included dishes like roasted bone marrow, cured fish with a beetroot salad, and my personal favorite, flawlessly smoked ribs. The supper was served family style, with vegan alternatives available.

Many weeks later, my friends and I are still raving about this lunch as we wait for the restaurant to announce their next Farm Feast.

What is your favorite meal? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!


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